The Glass Menagerie - Hidden Treasure of 1987

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flipp525
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Postby flipp525 » Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:23 pm

Damien wrote:Sally Kirkland had a lot of friends in the business (especially among actors) and had the underdog factor going for her (plus momentum from her Golden Glove win) -- and at the time she seemed charmingly eccentric, not the complete lunatic she is today.

I seem to recall a particularly brutal audition scene in Anna that Kirkland, who plays an aging stage actress, just knocks way out of the ballpark.

The Whales of August is an absolute chore to sit through but I agree that Gish is the best thing about it.




Edited By flipp525 on 1172612729
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Postby rudeboy » Wed May 17, 2006 2:50 am

Damien wrote:1997 was an extremely strong year for Leading Actresses (amd conversely -- and surprisingly -- a weak one for Actors)

I don't agree with that entirely. There were some exceptionally strong lead actor performances in 1987 - its just that the Academy didn't see fit to nominate any of them. By default, my top choice of the nominees would be William Hurt in Broadcast News - by far the thing I like least about that film. If they'd nominated the infinitely more memorable Albert Brooks in lead where he undoubtedly belonged, then we'd talk.

I haven't seen Marcello Mastroianni's performance but I prefer Joe Mantegna in House of Games, Steve Martin in Roxanne, Dennis Quaid in The Big Easy, Nic Cage in Raising Arizona and two of my all-time favourite child performances, Anton Glanzelius in My Life as a Dog and Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun, to any of the actors nominated. Hell, even John Lone - one of the better things about the ponderous Last Emperor - was a better choice than Hurt, Nicholson, Douglas and Williams.

Glad you mentioned Lilian Gish, Damien. She would have been a fine choice and in hindsight it seems even more surprising that they turned down what would clearly be the final chance to recognise this great actress. Anne Bancroft in 84 Charing Cross Road was another good performance that was overlooked.

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Postby Damien » Tue May 16, 2006 1:00 pm

1997 was an extremely strong year for Leading Actresses (amd conversely -- and surprisingly -- a weak one for Actors), but I was stunned that Maggie Smith's great performance wasn't nominated. Lillian Gish in The Whales of August was another highly-praised actress who undoubtedly would have gotten in in aweaker year. Joanne Woodward probably would have made it in in, say, 1984.

Except for Meryl Streep (this was the first year when you got that sinking feeling that she was nominated just for being Meryl Streep), any of the other four Actresses had a real shot. Fatal Attraction was a cultural phrnomrnon in 1987, and Glenn Close was its embodiment; Holly Hunter gave what was probably the year's most acclaimed (and lovable) performance and Sally Kirkland had a lot of friends in the business (especially among actors) and had the underdog factor going for her (plus momentum from her Golden Glove win) -- and at the time she seemed charmingly eccentric, not the complete lunatic she is today.

But having watched her evolve over two decades, everybody loved Cher, and the Oscar was in some ways an acknowledgment of her agility at reinventing herself and rebuilding her career from the state of semi-jokehood. Moreover, Moonstruck was an extremely popular film, and at the time it seemed as if Cher was posied to be a major movie star. WHo knew that she would find making movies boring, and would find greater self-fulfillment in infomercials?
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Postby rudeboy » Tue May 16, 2006 9:46 am

I agree on Smith - one of her very finest performances, she's magical in Judith Hearne. I'd have given the award to Holly Hunter, but Smith would be a very close second, and looking back it's quite shocking that she was not nominated.

Hunter aside, I don't really feel 1987's best actress contenders hold up all that well. Giving the oscar to Cher for a lively but thoroughly forgettable performance looks, to me at least, increasingly embarassing as the years go by. I've never seen Sally Kirkland in Anna but am no great fan of Glenn Close - the best thing in the watchably daft Fatal Attraction, but hardly an award worthy performance. And while Ironweed might be, after A Cry in the Dark, my favourite performance of Meryl Streep's (very overpraised) 80s period, her character grates increasingly as the movie progresses.

By ignoring Smith they managed to pass over possibly the best leading performance of her career. Nice one.

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue May 16, 2006 9:19 am

It's a shame that Laurette Taylor's legendary stage performance as Amanda wasn't captured on film. So many actors and actresses, from Charles Durning, Ben Gazzara, Marian Seldes and Gena Rowlands to Nanette Fabray, cite her natural acting in that as their inspiration for becoming actors.

Of the three filmed versions, I like the 1974 made-for-televison version with Katharine Hepburn, Michael Moriarty, Joanna Miles and Sam Waterston best. Moriarty and Miles deservedly won Emmys for their performances while Hepburn was nominated, deservedly losing to Cicley Tyson in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. If her Amanda seems a bit too strong, it is certainly a better portrait than that of Gertrude Lawrence in the 1950 version.

Joanne Woodward was probably the best Amanda on film. She, Karen Allen and John Malkovich were good in the 1987 version, but by then the work itself seemed a bit old-fashioned and yet another film version a bit redundant. Still, Mancini's evocative score was one of his best, though, and certainly deserved a nomination over John Williams' The Witches of Eastwick. In order to deny Mancini, they had to nominate Wiliams twice, having also nominated him deserdly for Emprie of the Sun.

As for Woodward, though she certainly merited consideration, 1987 was an unusally strong year for actresses. The non-nominee I think most unfairly overlooked that year was Maggie Smith in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne.

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Postby rudeboy » Mon May 15, 2006 5:57 am

I haven't seen it since it was released on video in the UK sometime around 1988/89. I recall enjoying it but that Newman's direction was a little ponderous and unimaginative at times. I was only about fifteen, so I guess I should give it another go sometimes.

Woodward was fine if a little one-note I believe, but its Allen who really got to me. I only knew her from her feisty, fun role in Raiders of the Lost Ark and her performance here was a real revelation. She's exceptionally good, and with the Academy's supporting actress slate being notably poor that year (I've seen Dukakis, Archer, Ramsey and Sothern and wouldn't have nominated a single one of them) I do believe she was deserving of recognition.

Its a shame Allen's career seems to have all but petered out since because she's an actress of genuine charm and underrated ability.

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Postby flipp525 » Sun May 14, 2006 2:41 pm

THE GLASS MENAGERIE (1987)

Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich, Karen Allen, James Naughton; dir. Paul Newman

****

What a wonderful adaptation of Williams’ most personal play. I saw Sally Field on stage at the Kennedy Center two years ago in the main role and thought she was fantastic. But Joanne Woodward just really shines here. She finds the delicate balance between Amanda Wingfield’s whimsical sentimental musings of the South with the fear and anxiety she feels about her daughter’s future. Her interpretation is easily the best I’ve seen. She seems to really understand Amanda Wingfield in a way previous actresses have fallen short. I would’ve nominated her for the lead Oscar in a heartbeat.

Paul Newman’s direction is superb. Staying true to the theatrical roots of the play, he does not forego the direct appeals to the audience by Tom Wingfield (John Malkovich), nor does it seem like he’s cut any of the text. He chose to film in low lights amid a very realistic, lived-in set. The dark and dingy 1930’s St. Louis tenement appears like an old, yellowing postcard, and the final dinner sequence by candlelight is reminiscent of Amanda Wingfield’s Moon Lake memories. Karen Allen is heartbreaking as the lame, and cripplingly shy Laura Wingfield and has never been better. Her face crumbling when she learns that the “Gentleman Caller” is promised to another is one of her best moments.

Where were the nominations for this that year? I would’ve at least expected Henry Mancini’s absolutely haunting score to have been recognized. A beautiful, elegiac composition.

The final moment where Tom speaks to the audience of the sad, lonely outcome of his mother and sister is like a swift knock of the heart. It’s a moment so genuine on the part of John Malkovich, you feel like he truly is speaking from memory.

Highly recommended, if you can track it down.
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."



-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


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